Free Work Breakdown Structure Templates

In this article, we’ve rounded up the most popular and effective work breakdown structure templates so you can streamline the decomposition process and ensure all projects details are documented, managed, and tracked.

By Kate Eby Updated November 5, 2018

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Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Dictionary Template

Document WBS numbering, task names, descriptions, scheduling dates, and more with this detailed WBS dictionary. Create an effective project schedule using the definitions denoted in the dictionary to track and maintain your project progress.

WBS Tree Diagram Excel Template

Track and manage your project using this simple tree structure to ensure you stay on top of your project tasks and deliverables. Include WBS numbering to delineate elements and project levels to visually manage projects from start to finish.

WBS Tree Diagram Word Template

Track and manage your project using this simple tree structure to ensure you stay on top of your project tasks and deliverables. Include WBS numbering to delineate elements and project levels to visually manage projects from start to finish.

WBS Outline and Diagram Template

Outline project tasks and display them in a tree structure to easily view the breakdown of your projects, along with deadlines and WBS numbering. Visually document how each level relates to the next, and add or shift project tasks and data as it changes.

WBS Levels Template

Separate your project tasks by levels to easily see how each subtask contributes to the main activity or milestone, and to ensure you’re documenting and tracking each phase of your project. Label each level by activity number and shift levels and subtasks as your project progresses.

User Acceptance Testing and Training WBS Template

Manage, organize, and track the many activities associated with user acceptance testing to ensure a software’s functionality with this high-level breakdown of project tasks. Document branches for training, test sites, project-specific roles, and more, and edit or rearrange the categories as needed.

People and Project Management WBS Template

Manage multiple clients, direct reports, and projects with this simple yet visual WBS template. Add levels based on specific project needs and divide individual tasks based on each client, team member, or project to ensure you always have visibility into the work being done by whom.

Software Development Project WBS Template

Organize tasks and activities in a hierarchical list to give visibility into all client deliverables and internal activities associated with a software development project. Mesh this template with your chosen project management methodology for an easy way to document and track all activities.

Construction Project WBS Template

This template is created with construction projects in mind. It features both a tree diagram and outline, which you can edit to include the necessary phases and work packages for your project. You can also view task hierarchy in both formats: via parent and child rows in the outline, and by color-coding on the diagram.

Engineering Project WBS Template

Break down tasks by category, like engineering, enterprise, and education, and delegate tasks associated with a large-scale engineering project to ensure there’s visibility and accountability with every project tasks. Document and manage all associated work packages based on your specific project needs.

Conference Planning Mindmap Template

Plan a successful conference and map out all supporting tasks and ideas that connect to the conference with this helpful mindmap template. Track all conference categories, like initiation, procurement, marketing and web, on-the-day activities, and more to help you manage conference tasks from ideation to completion.

Business Process Modeling WBS Template

Create, model, and monitor your business processes at every phase of your project to effectively track and oversee all relevant tasks. This template is broken down by six phases, from project launch to project monitoring, to ensure you have insight into each process and that you hit all necessary deadlines.

Business Acquisition WBS Template

List, manage, and track all activities and tasks associated with a recent business acquisition to ensure that you’re covering all your bases. With categories for migration resource information, project accounting, and corporate communications, this template will ensure you always have insight into how the acquisition is progressing.

Streamline your work with Smartsheet

Documenting the total scope of work for a project is a key part of the project planning process, and a work breakdown structure (WBS) is a helpful tool to get you started. But once you've completed your WBS, you need a solution to help plan, track, automate, and report on the overall project details from start to finish.

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What Goes Into a Work Breakdown Structure?

A work breakdown structure separates data, services, a product, or all three, depending on the type and scope of a project. A WBS can be oriented around deliverables or around project phases and milestones for a process-centered approach. The process of subdividing a project into smaller components is called decomposition, and it can be completed by an entire project team as a group effort to ensure a comprehensive WBS. Doing so will give all team members a broad understanding of the project, thus improving communication, efficiency, and accountability.

Once the deliverables or milestones have been identified, the team can list the sequence of activities needed to complete each deliverable, thus decomposing the project into workable steps. The hierarchy of steps breaks the project into levels: The lowest level is the work package, which includes the activity or tasks required to produce a deliverable or complete a milestone. The pre-formatted structure of a template can help streamline the decomposition process and ensure that all necessary details are included.

The number of levels required for a WBS will depend on the characteristics of a project, but the levels must be sufficient to meet a project manager’s needs for accurate estimating and effective project monitoring. In a similar vein, the level of detail will vary, but one option is to follow the 8/80 rule, which says that the lowest level of work should require between eight and 80 hours. Based on this rule, if a work package takes more than 80 hours, it needs to be decomposed further.

A work breakdown structure can be formatted in various ways, including as an outline (basically, a numbered list), a hierarchical table, or a tree diagram. Regardless of format, a WBS will typically include outline numbering to represent the sequential order of each level and activity. To complement the WBS, a related dictionary may be created to provide detailed information about each element of the project, including definitions of each work package, effort level and duration of tasks, resources, and more. A WBS dictionary is generally presented in a table or spreadsheet format and serves as a detailed reference and planning tool.

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